Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Four Year Athlete Obsolete

At the end of every Men's Division 1 NCAA Hockey season, most of the 59 teams fan bases hold their breaths and wonder one thing. Who are we going to lose early this year? It has become a common thing for athletes not staying all four years in order to be sure to sign that entry level pro contract into the NHL.

According to USCHO.com, 30 players chose to leave their schools early, a majority of which were juniors with just one year left to play. However, there were five freshman who decided to leave after one year, including second overall pick in this year's entry draft, Jack Eichel. Now I do understand that these top NHL draft picks want to be sure that a serious injury doesn't ruin their professional dreams, but seriously. You go to college to play the sport and the university you are playing at is investing time and money in you. Now I'm not saying athletes should stay all four years, but they should spend at least three years with their school of choice.

Another interesting number found off of USCHO.com, 20 of the 59 schools were effected by early departures. Of those 20 schools, 10 of them saw more then one player leave for the NHL. Now I know that doesn't seem like a lot of players considering each of the 59 teams is allowed to roster up to 25 athletes, however top programs like North Dakota, Minnesota, and Boston University have rarely seen an entire class stick together all four seasons since the turn of the century, if at all.

For example, look at a team like North Dakota. This season saw the departures of juniors Zane McIntyre and Jordan Schmaltz to their respective pro teams. The year before, they lost Rocco Grimaldi to Florida, who was a red shirt sophomore at the time, and three seasons ago, would lose junior Derek Forbort to a pro contract. The list just goes on from there.

Maybe someday more athletes will once again decide to play all four seasons of NCAA hockey, but for now, senior classes keep getting smaller and smaller, and the sizes of the incoming freshman classes just keep growing in size.

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